The prospect of prison looms over former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. and his wife after they agreed to plead guilty to charges in an alleged scheme to spend $750,000 in campaign funds on personal items — including furs, a gold watch, a football signed by U.S. presidents and even a hat once owned by Michael Jackson.
It wasn't immediately clear how much time either Jackson could end up
doing when the legal drama inevitably reaches its climax before a
federal sentencing judge within a few months. But judges frown on brazen
breaches of public trust, said one former federal prosecutor, and that
may mean the former Chicago congressman will likely to have to serve at
least a few years behind bars.
"It shows hubris and arrogance that a politician sees his campaign
coffers as his to spend as likes," said Jeff Cramer, who as an assistant
U.S. attorney in Chicago worked on multiple corruption cases.
these kinds of charges, I cannot imagine him not going to prison ... for
3 1/2 or 4 1/2 years."
He thought Sandi Jackson, at most, would spend several months in prison.
Federal prosecutors on Friday filed one charge of conspiracy against the
former congressman and charged his ex-alderman wife, Sandra, with one
count of filing false joint federal income tax returns for the years
2006 through 2011 that knowingly understated the income the couple
received. Both agreed to plead guilty in deals with federal prosecutors.
Both face maximum penalties of several years in prison; he also faces
hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and forfeitures. But the
government did not immediately release the text of its plea agreements.
Such agreements almost invariably call for prosecutors to recommend
sentences below the maximum.
The son of a famed civil rights leader, Jackson, a Democrat, entered
Congress in 1995 and resigned last November. Sandi, as she's known, was a
Chicago alderman, but resigned last month amid the federal
Jackson used campaign money to buy a $43,350 gold-plated, men's Rolex
watch and $9,587.64 on children's furniture, according to court papers
filed in the case. His wife spent $5,150 on fur capes and parkas, the
document said. (Much more at ABC)